36 East Victoria St.
Santa Barbara


Coming to a new church, much less a new religious tradition, can be like entering a foreign country. We hope this rough-and-ready dictionary will help guide you along the journey.

Baptism: Baptism refers to the application of water to a person in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Baptism is a ritual through which we begin the Christian life. It connects us with Jesus Christ and his community.

Communion: Communion, also called The Lord’s Supper or the Eucharist, is the joyous, family meal of those who follow Jesus. It looks back to his once-for-all sacrificial death and looks forward to his return. When we celebrate this feast, we commune with our risen Lord as he confirms his promise of forgiveness, healing, and life. We also commune with one another, participating together in the reconciling grace of God.

Eucharist: Eucharist, from the greek word meaning “thanksgiving”, is another word used to describe the Lord’s Supper which focuses on Jesus’ act of returning thanks to God before the meal for God’s gift of life.   See also communion.

The Gospel: By “gospel”, we mean the good news that through the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ the power of God’s kingdom has entered history to renew all things. When we believe and rely on Jesus’ work and record (rather than our own) for our relationship to God, the Holy Spirit works that kingdom power in us and through us.

Grace: Grace is God’s love given to the unlovely; God’s peace given to the restless; God’s embrace given to runaways; God’s kiss given to the hostile; God’s hope given to the cynical. God’s victory given to losers; God’s rewards given to the undeserving. God’s righteousness given to sinners; Grace is the opposite of karma. Grace is unconditioned love.

Liturgy: liturgy refers to various elements of our worship service and sequence in which they take place.

Lord’s Supper: The Lord’s Supper is the meal that Jesus gave to his disciples to ritualize his relationship with them. See also communion.

Presbyterian: Presbyterian refers to a form of church government, where churches are governed by elders and connected to other churches.

Reformed: Reformed refers to the branch of Protestant Christianity that emphasizes human dependence on God and his grace, Christianity’s implications for every aspect of life, and the communal nature of Christianity.

Sermon: The time during the worship service set apart for the announcing of the gospel through a message based on the Bible. We believe that this message is important not simply because it conveys information, but because it conveys the powerful presence of Jesus.

Worship: The Oxford English Dictionary defines worship as being devoted to or in adoration of some person or thing. Whatever you live for, that is what you worship. This is why the late David Foster Wallace wrote, “In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is actually no such thing as atheism. … Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship.” We believe that we were made to worship God. Worship is often used more specifically to refer to the times when we meet together on Sundays.

Confused? Questions?

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